Cognitive computing will reshape health jobs

Dr Simon Eassom

The possibility of thousands of patient CT scans, MRI scans and X-rays being read simultaneously is not as far away as we think, if cognitive computing takes over the health sector.

Technology strategy leader Dr Simon Eassom, from the IBM Global Education Industry  is speaking at the Gold Coast Health and Medical Research Conference 2016 on the power and scope of opportunities that cognitive computing offers.

The two-day conference, which began today, is hosted by Griffith University’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland at the QT Hotel in Surfers Paradise

Dr Eassom is presenting on the ways in which cognitive computing (also known as artificial intelligence) is already working and proving its capability in augmenting human work expertise, especially within the health industry.

“When a cognitive computer is trained to work like a human mind, which is what we are already now able to do, it can do any number of tasks that the human can do but at a massively greater speed and scale,” says Dr Eassom.

“A cognitive computer has the ability to read thousands of medical scans and find anomalies within them in a much shorter timeframe than a human can.

Sheer volume of data

“The problem we are faced with now is in keeping up with the sheer volume of medical research and data that is being produced in our society.

“To put this into context, we can confidently expect that over the next five years we will see the amount of health data double approximately every seven months. We simply cannot keep up as humans and therefore we need cognitive computing to accelerate our rate of discovery.”


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Dr Eassom says that we need to quickly adapt to cognitive computing.

“Education within schools is paramount to ensure that all children are involved in application development with cognitive computers. This will eventually become as ubiquitous as the internet is to us now.

“Secondly, we need to understand that the workforce of the future is going to look very different to what it is currently. Some job functions are becoming redundant and we need to work out where changes will occur.

“Any jobs within the health sector where someone is acting as an interface between a medical professional and the patient, for example technicians or call centre operatives, could have their position taken over by a computer which will be able to do anything from read a scan and book an appointment to potentially even prescribe patient treatment.”

Dr Eassom’s presentation will be responded to by other health industry specialists as part of a panel session at the conference moderated by ABC Science presenter Bernie Hobbs.


Gold Coast Health and Medical Research Conference 2016

WHEN: Thursday December 1 and Friday December 2.

Registration from 7:30am.

WHERE: QT Hotel, Surfers Paradise.

CONTACT: Louise Durack, 0419 649 516 or email: l.durack@griffith.edu.au